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A.J. and Baylee February 2015.

My beloved Calico Cat, Baylee, passed away, Wednesday December 21, 2016 at 3:30 pm. She had to be euthanized due to cancerous tumors. I am writing this blog one week exactly to the day and time that I lost Baylee. The grief of the last 7 days has been, at times, almost unbearable. I’ve lost sleep. I’ve cried and slept at weird hours. I’ve worked some. I’ve take time off. Christmas was very wonderfully spiritual but full of pain and grief because Baylee died r days before Christmas. Even now, 7 days later I catch myself,  going to look for, thinking I have to go feed her. We were together for almost 15 years. Loving habits die slowly. Loving habits die hard. Especially, when any loving habit was about playing with, cuddling with and loving my cat Baylee and feeding her and greeting her or her greeting me in  the morning. I have 3 very active dogs. They are as loved as was Baylee.

Even with their companionship, company, love, and sometimes chaotic activity and play, my house feels so still, so quiet. So achingly, longingly, painfully, empty in a way, without my cat of almost 15 years. She was a Calico with “Calitude”. Often aloof and doing her own thing. Just as often, very loving, wanting company, curling up on my lap or chest and purring with love and delight. Baylee played with and cuddled with my dogs too. She loved them. They also loved her. They miss her too. If I play the recording of Baylee’s last stressed and painful meows, which so far I only did play and hear part of in my tribute video (below) to Baylee, my dogs, all jumped up and looked around. They miss her. They were not only empathizing with my pain. They empathized with the sound of Baylee’s stressed and painful meows. Dogs know that sound in another dog or animal. Just as every time I cry I have all my dogs wanting to jump on me and cuddle and in their own way comfort me with the way they have empathy. Each has licked away tears and shown me such tender caring loyal love.

I am a very sentimental, deep, and loving, empathic person. When I love, it is full-on. It is with total devotion, whether a pet or people I love and it is very deep and forever loyal. I don’t pretend that I love easily always. But once I give my love to pet or person, it’s a commitment. It’s deep. I mean it to last and I am fiercely loyal. Loss hurts for everyone. Loss hurts in a different way for empaths and those of us that are sentimental. The first thing that hit me when I woke up this morning was, “Baylee died a week ago today”. Then I remembered and observed, “a week ago today at this time, 1:40pm, I was in a cab taking Baylee to the vet”. “A week ago now, 2:10pm I got the terrible news, and I was asked, ‘What do you want to do'” I understand why I was asked, and yet there was no real choice as Baylee was very elderly and very ill. My response to the vet, “I guess, [as I cried], it’s time to say goodbye” I could barely choke out those words past the pain pulling in my throat and my tears.

This time, a week ago today, “3;30 pm, Baylee passed away” very humanely. But, this time last week, 3:30 pm, nonetheless, my beloved cat, was gone from me for the rest of my life. That hit hard today, a week to the time, but not as hard as it hit at the time last Wednesday.

Prior to that, not knowing for sure she’d not be coming home but with a strong sense of that. A sense that in the unfolding hour or more in which I would be told Baylee was very ill and in all kinds of pain she hid from me, and that I would have to make the choice to euthanize her, I was in some naturally instinctive protective way, up until the obvious, filling out the forms to authorize her death and then seeing her sedated to be prepared for the needle to end her precious life, I had tried up until that point to be in denial. Just a small part of me thinking Baylee would come home with me or need treatment, cost me a fortune (more than the $400 her examination and being euthanized cost – I’m not complaining) and then come home again. So, so sadly for me, that was not to be. Even my dogs miss Baylee. But for Baylee her going to God and being freed from her pain was an even better gift than her coming home with me, for her sweet soul. She has gone to her true home, the true home that awaits us all, Baylee is in the warm presence of a loving God. I am happy, for Baylee with regard to that.

To say she is missed is the greatest understatement I could ever make. I am grieving. It keeps hurting so very badly. So many pet lovers/owners whose pets are family to them whether they have tons of family members or not go through this pet loss and grief. It is hard to explain or even understand for those who are not pet lovers, be that cat lovers, or dog lovers or cat and dog lovers as I am.

In the picture above, that is myself with beautiful sweet loving Baylee in February of 2015. I see this picture and I long to feel what I felt that day, holding her. Her soft fur on my hand and arm. Her wonderful personality and purr of love up against my body. The warmth. The love. The closeness. I shall never, in this life, share that with Baylee again. That hurts more than I have words to express.

When we welcome a pet into our lives, our homes, our families, we know, that the day will come due to their short life spans, when we will have to say goodbye and suffer heart-wrenching loss. Even as we try to be realistically prepared for that day as a cat or dog ages, nothing can truly ever prepare us for that moment when they die or when we have to have them euthanized because they are elderly and gravely ill.

It seems, emotionally, right then and there, that all that love is gone, your pet is gone. Such a lost and overwhelming feeling of sadness, grief, and lostness. Feeling so bereft. So much pain. And the pain and bawling on the first day of that loss and grief exhausts us. It helps us naturally be so tired we may sleep.

However, in coming days, that changes. Pain is everywhere, in waves. Emptiness. Missing and longing to hold, touch, see, pet that beloved pet, just one more time, even, becomes us. The grief comes and goes. When it comes it is a tidal wave of emotional tsunami proportions. I cry. I grieve. And yes, at times, I dread the intensity of these feelings. Such powerful longing. Wondering if I did enough for Baylee. Feeling guilty for times when I was busy working or out doing things in my life and not with her. Negating the times I was with her, I did play with her and cuddle with her and love her as I was loved by her.

After a few hours of grieving on Wednesday December 21, 2016, I put expressed my experience in a the video below that I up-loaded to my YouTube Channel

Then 2 days later I did a Tribute video (below) that I also up-loaded to my YouTube Channel

While I have many friends that have been very supportive, I felt I needed to just do the videos to help me in my time of grief and to publicly to honour my beloved Baylee with the tribute I felt she deserved. For each of us when we lose a pet, it’s so personal. Others who have been trough this kind of loss know how it feels. Many other people are also grieving the death of a pet. Many more people will be at some point in the future. I have a 14 year old dog, right now, already seemingly on borrowed time. I hope he can keep on keeping on for his sake firstly right now, but secondly, for my sake, until I get further through the grief of the loss of my cat. I will be thrust back into where I am right now in deep pain and grief for the loss of my cat when this beloved mega sweet and lovingly loyal dog’s time to pass comes and it is coming. I feel a little lost between these two painful realities. The first, that Baylee has died 7 days ago and that grief is active. The second, that a second beloved dog of mine, who grieved the loss of my first dog, Mandy with me, 10 years ago, will soon also either pass away or require euthanasia. This wonderful dog is the last tie back to my late dog Mandy. So that’s going to make his loss hurt even more. Of course we’ve had 14 wonderful years together and he was only almost 4 years old when Mandy passed.

In 2001 I grieved for the loss of my first cat, Duke, a part-Siamese, he was almost 16 years old when his time came to go. He and I shared so much. He was also so very loving.

It is so important that anyone grieving the loss of a pet understand that all you feel and how deeply painful this is for you, it is normal and healthy. Not everyone in your life may understand your feelings. But, what is most important is that you never let anyone tell you to just “get over it”, or get away with saying, “Come on, it was just a cat or just a dog”. These people clearly don’t know the love of a cat or a dog. Don’t let anyone who does not understand shame you or in anyway affect your grieving process. You know how you feel and why and so do millions of other people.

Honour your pet, honour the relationship you and your late pet shared. Grieve until you get to that emotional place where it gets better, in whatever time you need. That time when we’ve grieved to a point of moving on in acceptance when the fond and funny memories take the place of all the pain that initial pet loss brings in all that grief and sorrow. I am looking forward to getting to that place where I will fondly remember Baylee’s kitten antics, her way of demanding food, even though she had lots of food still, she hated to run out of food, ever, even for like minutes. I long to remember fondly, after I grieve the pain, and feel this longing, and all the guilt attached to it that is often just a part of grief to have her back. That’s normal. I also look forward through my pain and tears now to when I will fondly smile, instead of cry and grieve, when I remember, as I always will, my beloved cat, Baylee. As I now fondly remember my late dog, Mandy and have for years now and my late cat Duke as I have for years now.

If you are grieving the loss of your beloved pet, please allow yourself the time and space to feel all you need to feel, bot pay tribute however you decide is right for you. To be with that sadness of loss and missing that pet until you move through it. Don’t let anyone minimize how you feel or judge how you feel. Don’t let anyone tell you that you “should be over it”. You know better than that. You are the one whose precious beloved pet died. You are the one that knew that pet deeply as he or she knew you in love and relationship that sometimes we just can’t adequately explain or have understood by some people in our lives. Most people know much more about this grieving process after the loss of pet now but there are still enough people out there that just aren’t animal lovers at all who don’t get. As much as I am grieving a huge loss right now, and you may be too or you have or you will. It is you, and I, the pet lovers who “get it” and understand why we grieve as we do. We know what the love we lost was and is and always will be in a different way. Those who don’t have pets or love animals have no idea.

I hope that, like myself, in your grief after a pet dies, you will ignore the people who don’t get it. At that point, they matter way less than how you are feeling about the loss of your beloved pet. Trust your feelings. Validate your feelings. Be with your feelings. Grieve as long as you have to and in your own way. Honour yourself and your relationship to your late pet in doing so.

Time does heal but we always will miss them. We are often so much more emotionally intimately close with our pets than most people. Why that is can be a very individual thing. But, I think it just speaks to the level of unbelievable unconditional love that a pet gives to us and we to them. We share something with our pets that can’t really be compared one way or another to those people we love in our lives. Pet grief, however, is for most, even deeper in many ways than the grief we will feel (deep in its own right) for human loved that pass away. For most it’s not about comparing those feelings when a pet or a person we love dies it’s just that we may notice some difference in the way the grief feels or is. Each being different.

Loss is loss. Grief is grief. Pain is pain. Crying, processing and feeling our way through that is what is most important so that we can heal and we can love the next pet when the time is right to get that pet. Some people do not get another pet. I know that I have decided I am definitely getting another cat, if not two litter mates, but not until after I have fully grieved Baylee.

I am not, however, going to get another dog, as each dog I have passes away in their own time. So we make different choices with our pets for our own reasons. Just as each individual has to honour their grief when a pet dies and make their own choice about whether or not, when the time feels right, they can open up again to the love of another pet and yes, the down the road re-experiencing again of the pain of loss.

Too many people, whether it’s a pet that dies or a person they cared for, knew, and/or loved, sell themselves short in grieving which can result in not being able to open again to new love, another pet, or another friend or partner in their lives, as the case may be. There is a way and process that is successful grieving. What I mean by successful grieving is that we are true enough to our loss, our feelings, the emotions, and grieving so that we get through it as best we can to a place of opening up again and of not being stuck or closing up as a result.

Life challenges us with endings and new beginnings. In order to get to the new beginnings we have to first, in healthy ways honour all the emotion we have an need to feel and process to get to the new beginning, whatever that is or looks like in each of our own lives.

A life lived without opening to love, or opening again to love, after loss, is a way of living that fails to fully open the gift that life truly is, even when we are grieving or we hurt. Life is a journey with a full range of experience, opportunities, challenges, and emotions. Live your life well by meeting every aspect of the journey of your life head on with the fullness of your emotions knowing that you are strong enough to grieve. Strong enough to love, and that so much of our mental health in challenging times rests on our ability to be kind to ourselves, love self, and excellent self-care as well as flow with what is. Radically accept all that is. Even when we experience a loss, and are in pain, whatever arises, love that.

Baylee my beloved cat, what a precious gift in my life you were, and always will be, though you are no longer here physically with me, you are here in my heart, and you always will be. We are still connected. I am pained so much by losing you and missing and longing for you but Baylee I am so glad you have gone to God and that you are free now and it matters most to be dear Baylee that you are no longer in pain. I will bear the pain that is mine now in honour of our relationship and the love you gave to me and all the love I gave to you and till h ave for you sweet Bayls – I will always love you. I trust that you are now joyfully being chased by Mandy in God’s presence as you were years ago chased by Mandy when she was with us in this life. I hope Mandy is hanging with Duke and that you and Duke are best buds now. Until we meet again Baylee and my other late beloved but never forgotten pets, may you have bright warm sun and the wind always at your back and lots of little creatures to chase and watch up close and not just as you watched, out the window, in your life and time here with me and our living dogs.

From my arms sweetheart to the face of God. What a journey you have taken. Even in my missing you and grieving you, Baylee, I am so comforted in the knowing that you my lovely are pain free and in a much better place. With all my love, Baylee, Godspeed.

© A.J. Mahari, December 28, 2016 – All rights reserved. 

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Pet Loss and Grief – 7 Days Since My Cat Died